A Saskatchewan man’s story that he gave thousands of dollars in Humboldt Broncos GoFundMe donations to a door-to-door canvasser is simply ridiculous, a Crown prosecutor argued Thursday.
Andrij Olesiuk, who has changed his name to Jay Max Olesiuk, launched a GoFundMe page the morning after the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in April 2018. Sixteen people died and thirteen others were injured after a semi-truck hit the junior hockey team’s bus.
Olesiuk, 33, said he gave the proceeds from his “#PrayForHumboldt” page to a woman whose name and organization he does not remember. She promised, Olesiuk said, to donate the $4,100 in cash through a charitable event.
He told court he doesn’t know if the money ever made it to the team, and he never saw the woman again.
During closing arguments at Olesiuk’s fraud trial, Howarth stated the court should reject the accused’s testimony about the “mysterious woman,” arguing she didn’t exist.
“It seems like fantasy and it seems, quite frankly, fabricated to explain away how he spent the actual proceeds on himself,” argued Crown prosecutor Darren Howarth.
Olesiuk faces charges of fraud and possession of property obtained by crime.
Howarth also argued the timeline of the mysterious woman’s arrival doesn’t add up. Olesiuk testified that she showed up at his doorstep in Martensville on April 24, 2018. After giving her $4,100, Olesiuk said he shut the account down on April 25.
According to a transaction log, Howarth said Olesiuk authorized a $3,300 payment to his account one day before the woman allegedly appeared. He received the payment on April 25.
“What are the odds …. that this lady just happened to show up in between the dates he initiated the withdrawal and received the money?” Howarth asked.
“What another amazing coincidence.”
During Wednesday’s testimony, Olesiuk said the woman gave him a thank you note in exchange for the donation. Under cross-examination, the 33-year-old acknowledged never telling the Crown or police about the document.
Olesiuk said he found it in his garage.
Const. Paul Jones of Saskatoon RCMP’s general investigations section said he was among the six officers who carried out a search warrant at Olesiuk’s Wakaw home on Nov. 20, 2018.
He also searched the “messy” garage, locating a box of tax and banking documents, along with external hard drives. Jones said there were no other boxes and officers never found the letter.
“I don’t believe we could’ve missed it,” he said under cross-examination.
The unnamed woman also left a receipt in Olesiuk’s mailbox, according to his testimony. It wasn’t an exhibit during trial because the man said it was lost in a February 2019 house fire.
Olesiuk was “measured” and “delivered testimony without anger,” according to his lawyer John Rozdilsky.
“I don’t think anyone would suggest that he burned his house down to hide a nonexistent receipt,” Rozdilsky said.
Judge Brent Klause asked why Olesiuk never retrieved the receipt over the few months between being charged and the house fire. Rozdilsky replied Olesiuk “was looking for the receipt all the way along.”
The defence also contended Olesiuk’s admissions that he set up the crowdfunding page and that he didn’t pay the Broncos directly show he is credible.
The judge’s decision is expected in January.